When it comes to patients taking care of their teeth, one of the biggest hurdles is flossing! Whether it’s a child or adult, this tends to be an area where hygiene falters. Now add braces into the mix and the struggle is even harder. Let's talk about products and the best ones out there for patients to use to help maintain a healthy smile while going through orthodontic treatment.
Arm and Hammer Toothpaste
First product that I love to use when providing a prophylaxis is gumchucks, not only can you get handles that can be sterilized for repeat use, but it’s a great time to show the patient how to use them and let them try it out themselves. The handles help with dexterity issues and provide room for the patient to get to hard to reach areas.
Interdental picks are great for patients who have wider gaps, have areas where food gets trapped and need a variety of sizes of tapered tree bristles depending on the spaces. The picks can also be dipped into mouthwash to help areas when gingiva gets inflamed and around the brackets to help reduce bacteria accumulation.
Water flosser is great for patients who don’t want to floss or use the picks. This option can do warm salt water rinses and/or mouthwash to run through the water flosser to help reduce bacteria and inflammation while removing food accumulation from between the teeth and around the brackets.
Electric toothbrushes are great for patients who need help with dexterity and motion of the toothbrush. For patients who have more of a tendency to brush back and forth and quickly or for patients who have signs of recession. Electric toothbrushes are also great for people who do well with timers and guided brushing. Sometimes I find people are better off with manual brushes but most of the time electric is the best option. The different size heads are great for all sizes of mouths and give flexibility in finding the perfect head for the patients teeth. The variety of options has been an appealing case for many patients.
Lastly, baking soda based toothpastes are one of my favorite products to recommend to my patients. Baking soda will neutralize the pH of the saliva which helps reduce the amount of bacteria that grows and sticks to the metal in their mouth. Metal attracts bacteria and plaque much faster than enamel and this is a great product to help reduce inflammation, bleeding and sore gums. Arm and Hammer or any toothpaste that says baking soda on it is a great choice.
Ultimately, I have found that trying to understand the patient's behaviors has helped guide me into providing the right recommendations. What works for one won’t work for all but building a rapport and figuring out what their habits are can give great insight when helping with product choices. For instance, I like to recommend a water flosser for patients who like to take long showers, hate flossing, sticking their fingers in their mouth and complain that it grosses them out. They find it appealing that they can floss in the shower with the water flosser and it doesn't make a mess that way either. Seeing them come back in a much healthier state for their next visit is an awesome feeling and I love hearing their feedback on the products too!